By Neal Lyons
Nothing gets fans more riled up than a video review. One side is cheated, the other side vindicated, and then both take to social media to continue the debate. Last night was no different as the Bruins had a goal called back for goaltender interference. It was a very marginal call, with David Krejci obstructing Grubauer’s ability to stop a Karson Kuhlman shot, in the second period. The goal would have put the Bruins up 3-1.
Before I go on, let it be known that I absolutely loathe video replay. It’s nice to get the calls right, but it slows the game down, affects momentum, and no one ever seems to be happy with the final result anyway. Let the plays go as called in the moment, errors and all. Understand that refs will make the odd error. They are human, after all. Ideally, the ones that go against you will balance out with the ones that benefit you throughout the season.
But, for now, the rules are in place, and we’re left to live and die by them.
In the spring of 2018, the NHL decided that all goalie interference reviews would ultimately be determined by the situation room in Toronto. They have the best conditions and technology to make the proper ruling, and they don’t have to deal with the arena environment and influences while determining it. It was the right decision to make… unless your team is on the wrong end of one of their rulings, of course.
Which brings us to Exhibit A, from last night. Krejci is in a net-front battle and pushes off from the defender. He’s toeing the edge of the crease, and his stick makes contact with Grubauer’s pad, but the goalie was able to remain set for the incoming shot. At the time of Karson Kuhlman’s release, Krejci is now in the crease, of his own accord, to Grubauer’s left. The shot travels the side of Krejci, and Grubauer is unable to slide across to attempt a save because Krejci is obstructing his ability to make the save. The second I saw the replay, I knew it was coming back.
It was the right call. We can argue whether Grubauer would have made the save if left unabated. That we’ll never know for sure but, under rule 69, “… Goals should be disallowed if: (1) an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal”. In Krejci’s case, the contact doesn’t even matter because his positioning alone was enough to impair Grubauer’s ability to move freely within his crease.
Now, in real-time, would any ref have identified this as goalie interference? Highly doubtful. Ian Walsh and Dean Morton certainly didn’t. I’m don’t even think Grubauer reacted in a way that made it seem as though he felt cheated. That is the annoying part. It took watching the play, frame by frame, from a camera positioned above the ice, to properly enforce Rule 69.
At the end of the day, the game is over. The team has most certainly moved on and shifted their focus to Saturday’s home opener versus New Jersey. As fans, I’m sure we’ll continue to dwell over what might have been for a little while longer before following suit. We’ve endured our first brush with an overturned goal this year but, rest assured, it won’t be our last.